This year, the Chevrolet Volt seems to win all the awards; North American Car of the Year, Green Car of the Year and more. But there are plenty of other 2011 models that are causing a stir and taking their own awards. While engineering and innovation are important factors when choosing a winner for different automobile awards; they are not factors that concern the consumer who buys a car every day. Factors like value and safety are some of the most important factors that a car buyer will consider when making the decision to buy a car. And while these cars may not be on the Best Car of the Year award list, they are garnering their own awards in categories that really matter to the consumer.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety selects cars each year to be on its list of Superior Safety options. For 2011, 66 different models earned a spot on this coveted list. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests the safety of these vehicles based on their performance in high-speed frontal and side crash tests and rollover tests. The IIHS also assesses how well the seat and head restraints protect against neck injuries in rear impacts. All vehicles on the Best Safety Options list must achieve the Institute’s highest rating of “Good” in all tests and come standard with electronic stability control.
The IIHS has strict safety tests that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; but they also create a list of approved vehicles from their tests. The IIHS put each of its winners in a class; In the large car class, the Buick LaCrosse, Chrysler 300 and Hyundai Genesis were just three of the 14 winners. In the Small Car class; the Chevrolet Cruze, Kia Forte, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen GTI were among the 14 winners. The Ford Fiesta, Toyota Sienna and Volkswagen Touareg were the only winners in their classes of Minicars, Minivans and large SUVs, respectively. In the midsize car category, a wide range of vehicles won from many different automakers, including Audi, Hyundai, Ford, Subaru, Mercedes, and Volvo; for a total of 15 cars. The midsize SUV category was the largest with 18 cars on the list. Models on this list include Audi Q5, Dodge Journey, GMC Terrain, Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota Highlander, and Lincoln MKT. The small SUV category had just 6 winners and included the Honda Element, Jeep Patriot, Subaru Forester, and Volkswagen Tiguan. No truck was named Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute. Electronic stability control is not commonly found on trucks and trucks do not always perform well in rollover tests.
A test of value was also conducted on all 2011 models. US News and World Report put together a list of the best cars for their money and selected a car from 18 different categories. The value of the cars was based on the five-year total cost of ownership, not just the number of standard premium features each model included. To put together this list, the US News also used their automotive ratings they receive from customers for satisfaction. The best cars for the money of 2011 include: Ford Fiesta and Taurus, Honda Fit and Civic, Buick Regal, Chevrolet Malibu, Traverse, Tahoe and Silverado 1500, Hyundai Elantra Touring, Infiniti EX, Suzuki Equator, Volkswagen GTI, Toyota Prius, Kia Sedona, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Lexus RX350 and Mazda MX-5 Miata. This list does not highlight the flashiest cars on the market; But considering how much longer consumers are keeping their cars, the more value they can get from it in the long run, it’s better than a car that has the latest and greatest technology.
When looking for a new car, the newest technology is definitely a great feature to find; But safety and value will almost always be the consumer’s number one and two priorities.